Mobile Genetic Elements and Their Use for Gene Transfer in Drosophila
Following the pioneering work on “controlling elements” in maize by McClintock (1957), mobile genetic elements were also discovered in Drosophila on the basis of their genetic properties. The first mobile genetic element was described by Green (1967, 1969a,b) and found to be associated with the white locus. The white (w) mutation was the first mutant which was isolated in Drosophila by Morgan in 1910. Since the w 1 mutation lacks the red and brown eye pigments present in the wild type, it shows a white eye color. Green found an unstable mutant white-crimson (wc) which confers a light reddish-orange eye color and mutates with an unusually high frequency (∼10−3) to lighter or darker eye pigmentation. It also generates deletions which extend from the white locus over varying distances, and most importantly it gives rise to transpositions of parts of the white locus to other chromosomes. On the basis of the genetic data, Green postulated the existence of a genetic element responsible for the high mutability and the generation of chromosomal rearrangements and transposition, and this was later confirmed by gene cloning experiments (Collins and Rubin 1982; Paro et al. 1983; see below).
KeywordsMaize Recombination Xanthine Fami
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